Transformational: 21-Week Anti-Racism Challenge
The 21-Week Anti-Racism Challenge compelled the UC Davis community, individually and collectively, to explore the foundations of institutional racism and understand how to address and commit to honest and lasting structural change.
Call to Action
Elizabeth Moon took on the role of chief diversity officer for the University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management (GSM) in 2017 because she was passionate about creating equitable access to graduate business education and opportunities for learning together as a community. Moon worked with our Faculty Diversity Committee, and we created a comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategic plan in 2019. A year later, as we huddled at home, disconnected from each other due to the pandemic, we watched in horror the murder of George Floyd by a member of the police. This terrible event, along with countless other instances of blatant racism and violence toward Black people in America spurred us to realize that as a learning community, the GSM needed to put real action into our DEI work.
Utilizing all resources at our disposal, we worked with our marketing team to increase visibility on our website and scheduled weekly virtual gatherings that formed our Action for Diversity Community Group. This collection of more than 90 members collaborated to create safe spaces for us to come together, and over the summer of 2020, we built out the first stage of our action to address anti-Blackness: the 21-Week Anti-Racism Challenge.
The UC Davis Graduate School of Management’s 21-Week Anti-Racism Challenge was based on the work of scholar Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr., who created the 21-Day Challenge to promote deeper understandings around race, power, privilege, and oppression. We expanded the challenge to 21 weeks to “bake it in” to our DEI praxis during the academic year. We adapted both Moore’s 21-Day Challenge and UC San Diego Chancellor’s 21-Day Anti-Racism Challenge to create our program. We appreciate and credit Moore and UC San Diego’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for sharing these initiatives and tools for learning.
In our more in-depth 21-Week Anti-Racism Challenge at the GSM, we explored concepts of anti-racism as a means to help one another begin to identify and confront the structural and behavioral norms that perpetuate civil injustice and systemic racial inequality. Our goal was and is to further our awareness, compassion, understanding, and engagement with respect to anti-racism through the lens of anti-Blackness and the experience of Black people in America. The Challenge invites participants to engage with 21 activities, including readings, videos, and recordings grounded in a social justice framework that situates structures of power, position, privilege, perception, and process. Each activity fell into a category specific to the individual quarter:
- Fall: How We Got Here
- Winter: Intersections of Power, Language, & Visibility
- Spring: Allying, Action, & Accountability
Each week we connected via Zoom for this transformational journey to share our reflections, and many members videotaped their personal stories to share on our website.
As a result of our challenge and based on our DEI strategic plan, our Action for Diversity Community Group codified seven core actions to implement over the next three years:
- Celebrate Juneteenth through a historically accurate and contextual acknowledgement of the holiday, provide resources to learn more, and recognize Black-owned businesses and related events in our community.
- Identify and develop relationships with local nonprofits that are making strides in creating inclusive spaces that we can support through quarterly actions of either direct or indirect commitment.
- Research, identify, and reach out to companies directly owned by or with C-suite-level representation of underrepresented minorities about sponsoring one IMPACT consulting project (MBA capstone course) per quarter.
- Reestablish and create new Grad Pathways programming in collaboration with each of the minority retention programs on the UC Davis campus, including researching implementation of a student-to-student mentorship program.
- Pledge to continue holistic admissions and recruiting practices that enable greater representation, and form a student body that reflects the population in the state of California.
- Continue to create resources and tools to foster belonging, inclusion, and equity in the classroom through the efforts of the Faculty Diversity Committee.
- Commit to providing the resources for learning and growth in building collaborative leaders who are able to navigate and create systemic change beyond the GSM and in their communities and professional organizations.